MARSHALL - A lackadaisical start wasn't enough to the Marshall volleyball team's charge through its fourth straight opponent on Thursday night, as the Tigers swept the Luverne Cardinals 25-9, 25-10, 25-4 in a Southwest Conference match.
Two days removed from holding Fairmont to just six points for the match, Marshall opened up against Luverne on a similar run, leading 13-2 before a lack of focus and communication began to set in.
The Cardinals went on a 5-1 run of their own to halve the Marshall lead before the Tigers pulled away to claim the first set. Those problems persisted into the second set, as the Tigers and Cardinals traded points until Marshall head coach Dan Westby called timeout with his team leading 6-4.
Photo by Travis Andries
Marshall’s Sydney Griffin (2) sets the ball in the second game of Marshall’s 3-0 win over Luverne on Thursday at Marshall High School.
"We didn't have the focus that we needed early in the match, which was disappointing," Westby said. "You have a limited number of opportunities over the course of the season to compete. When you have those opportunities, you want to make the most of them. We probably didn't do that early on. The most focus I thought we had was in the third set and we played a number of kids in that set again."
Marshall's response to Westby's reminder of the limited nature of high school competition wasn't immediate, but when it came, the Tigers did not look back.
Leading Luverne 10-8 in the Set 2, Sydney Griffin slammed home a kill and started a 40-6 run in Marshall's favor over the remainder of the match. Six more points followed the kill before it was interrupted by a hitting error, with Callie Graff knocking down three of her team-high 11 kills on the night.
Set 3 also featured an extended run, with Griffin serving for 13 consecutive points. The streak stretched a 4-1 Tiger lead into an 18-1 advantage.
Griffin, who was 43 of 43 with 14 aces against Fairmont, had a less obnoxious night serving on Thursday, however, finishing 28 of 29 with a lone ace. She also added 16 set assists.
"There's not another kid in the state that does as many things for their team as she does for our team," Westby said of Griffin. "We're glad she's on our team. She really hit some balls well tonight, too."
Griffin finished with just four kills, but used them to get her teammates into the match. Kenzie Beekman added 10 kills and two ace blocks, while Marah Mulso had a five-kill, two-block performance. Emma Doyle led the Tigers with three ace blocks for the game.
Stephanie Baker also repeated her strong serving performance from Tuesday, finishing 15-for-15 with an ace. Rachel Sanow added two aces for the Tigers, while tallying 15 set assists in the sweep. Hannah Bennett recorded a game-high 24 digs.
The Tigers (4-0 overall, 1-0 SWC) will be hosting the Molten Southwest Minnesota Challenge on Friday and Saturday at Marshall High School and the R/A Facility at Southwest Minnesota State University. The 32-team tournament features elite competition from across the midwest and Westby said that despite his team probably looking ahead to the weekend a little too early on Thursday night, they are eager to face some of the region's top teams.
"I think our kids are excited for this weekend. That's good," Westby said. "It's going to be stiff competition and you hope that our kids would look forward to that. It'll be interesting to see how we do."
The Tigers open with Canby at 5 p.m. at the high school facing either Totino-Grace or Hutchinson at 7:30 p.m.
MARSHALL 3, LUVERNE 0
Luverne 9 10 4
Marshall25 25 25
MARSHALL INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
Serving (good-att-aces): Sydney Griffin 28-29-1, Rachel Sanow 9-9-2, Stephanie Baker 15-15-1
Kills: Callie Graff 11, Kenzie Beekman 10, Marah Mulso 5, Griffin 4
Digs: Hannah Bennett 24, Graff 6
Assists: Griffin 16, Sanow 15
Blocks: Emma Doyle 3, Beekman 2, Mulso 2